Issue(s): Eternals #1, Eternals #2, Eternals #3, Eternals #4, Eternals #5, Eternals #6, Eternals #7, Eternals #8, Eternals #9, Eternals #10, Eternals #11, Eternals #12
Why shrink the scope of the Eternals after going through the effort of bringing them into the Marvel universe? Well, since Kirby intended it as a standalone, there was potentially enough there to overwhelm the existing Marvel universe. The arrival of the Celestials alone should have derailed every other Marvel book at the time. And there are a lot of concepts in the Eternals that are redundant in the Marvel Universe. The idea that humans got the idea of the Greek gods from observing the Eternals doesn't fit nicely with the fact that there are actual Greek gods in the Marvel universe. The Celestials are somewhat diminished among Marvel's other cosmic entities, as we saw in Secret Wars II with some of them kinda standing in the background among the likes of the Living Tribunal and Eternity. And the idea of a hidden city of super-powered individuals that are the result of experimentation from mysterious visitors from space... well, did i just describe the Eternals or the Inhumans?
All that said, the Marvel Universe has always had a big tent, and with a little hand-waving all of the above has been integrated well enough. But you can understand the impulse to scale things back a bit. The scale back doesn't even fully hold; we'll learn that not all of the Deviants were wiped out in the Iron Man story; only their "elite", including their leader, Brother Tode. Which is good because, unlike the Inhumans, one of the benefits of the Eternals is that they have a built in set of potential villains so they don't just have to fight Maximus every time we see them.
With all of that preliminary work done, this is the first series to really try to work with the Eternals in the Marvel universe. The twelve issue limited series is dedicated "with awe and affection" to Jack Kirby, and it begins as a work by Peter Gillis and Sal Buscema. Unfortunately the creative team begins to break down with issue #9, which has Walt Simonson replace Gillis as writer. Issue #10 loses Buscema as well, replacing him with Keith Pollard, and then issue #12 is by Paul Ryan. The Eternals are so strongly a Jack Kirby concept i would have preferred to see a single artist handle the entire story, and the new and improved Sal Buscema, who uses a style that he developed to replace Walt Simonson on Thor was a good pick (although if we could have gotten Simonson to draw this series, that would have been even better), so it's disappointing to lose him for the final 3 issues. And having to swap out writers on a mini-series is never a good sign.
Still, there's a lot to enjoy here, and the story retains cohesiveness despite the creative team changes. As an executive summary (six paragraphs into the review, i know), the story is that with the Deviant leadership having been eliminated, the Deviant priesthood takes over their society, and the newly introduced head priest, Ghaur, attempts to steal the power of a Celestial for himself, so that he can take over the world for his race. He is stopped by the Eternals, along with the Deviant general Kro, and a combination of Thor and the West Coast Avengers.
Now into the details. Issue #1 sets the stage by having Sam Holden, a human "pet" of Sersi's, giving a lecture about the Eternals to a group that he knows will not retain any of their memories about the subject the minute the lecture is over.
Sersi, whose outfit has gotten more revealing since we last saw her...
...continues the lecture for the benefit of us readers.
Next we see the coronation of Thena, now that her father Zuras is dead. But it turns out to be an empty ritual that the other remaining Eternals decided to not attend in person.
This seems like a major lack of respect for someone about to inherit Zuras' very real mantle of power, but as Thena says, "The gods have come and gone -- and they left us unchanged." With the last Celestial host departing with no significant changes, and the majority of the Eternals no longer on Earth, it's understandable that the remaining Eternals have decided to pursue their individual interests. Nonetheless Thena says that it is the job of the remaining Eternals to act as guardians for the world's inhabitants, protecting against "the madness of mankind - or the evil of the Deviants - or even our own arrogance". I think the idea that the coming and departing of the Celestials without incident has left the Eternals questioning their existence is a powerful one, but it's not really explored in these issues.
For Ikaris, we are first led to believe that his individual interest is professional wrestling.
But it turns out this is really just a means to hunting down Deviants.
(This is not the first time we've seen Deviant wrestlers; there was El Toro Rojo in Thor #290.)
The Deviant in this case is called Cataphrax, and when the fight with Ikaris expands into a battle underneath the wrestling arena, Cataphrax makes the point that the Deviants have not exactly fared equally well as the Eternals from the Celestials' experiments.
Thena called the Deviants evil above, but we've already seen a few examples (Karkas most specifically, Reject and Kro to lesser degrees) where Deviants aren't exclusively evil. And Cataphrax gives an explanation for why the remaining Deviants do act evil.
Ikaris is more or less invulnerable to the Deviants' attacks, but they do something to his armor that we'll later learn allows them access to a hidden vault in the Polar Eternals' ruined fortress (destroyed in issue #19 of the original Eternals series).
The tragedy of the Deviants is continued when Cataphrax returns, seemingly in triumph.
However, he learns that the priests have judged him to be "genetically unclean" and therefore he's to be sent to the fire pits to be culled.
We first meet Ghaur, leader of the Deviant Priests, in issue #2.
In his introductory scene, he mentally remolds the face of the former Emperor Brother Tode's son...
...and then has him killed.
We also see Kro claim the Deviant crown, and while the priests let him have it, they make it clear he's nothing more than a puppet.
Issue #3 introduces Dave Chatterton, a human that attempts suicide and instead becomes another "pet" for Sersi.
It also shows the continuation of the Deviants' plot to access the Polar Eternal's vaults, with a group accessing the lair of Sigmar the Eternal under the subway system in New York...
...and fighting Phastos, a newly introduced Eternal based on Hephaestus.
Despite his introduction here, Phastos won't play much of a role in this series. He is largely a pacifist and does not participate any further in the battle against the Deviants. And despite the fact that the Deviants seem to be defeated by Phastos, they still manage to transmit the data from Sigmar's lair that they were seeking back to their leaders.
With that, the Deviants launch in full force towards the Polar Eternal's decimated fortress.
Ikaris has recruited Makkari, Kingo Sunen, and the Deviant Reject to fight the Deviants.
Also lurking about is the Forgotten One.
At least one of the Deviants, meanwhile, has obviously been trained by Nick Fury.
They've also got a Bandrhude.
The small group of Eternals prove to be a match by the Deviants, but they are deflected by Thena, whose semi-romance with Kro goes back centuries. The Deviants move on to the North Pole while the Eternals return to Olympia so that Ikaris can accuse Thena of treason.
Thena's argument is that the Deviants weren't actively doing anything wrong, and the Eternals had no business attacking them out of the blue. After talking with his human girlfriend Margo and remembering how his singleminded pursuit of Deviants once resulted in the death of his son, the Icarus of legend (Ikaris changed his name as a tribute to his son), Ikaris and Thena agree to a more reasonable discussion...
...but that's shattered when Ikaris' chest alarm goes off.
Thena's depictions are very suspect in these issues. She's moody and ineffectual...
...and in scenes like the one above with Ikaris, is completely unreasonable about the actions of Deviants. Ikaris is definitely depicted as irrationally obsessed with fighting Deviants, but at the same time, his chest alarm is going off! I don't know if you people even have chest alarms, but i assure you that mine is only activated under the most dire of circumstances. Thena's behavior is later explained, but it's only after Walt Simonson takes over for Peter Gillis and i don't know if the reveal was planned all along or if Simonson was reacting to the way Thena was written.
Issue #5 also introduced two more characters. The Deviant, Yrdsis, an artist.
And Khoryphos, an Eternal musician.
In #7, Ikaris' band returns to re-engage with the Deviants, and runs into a power struggle between Kro, who has acquired a mysterious vial from the Polar Eternals' vault, and the priests.
When the Eternals arrive, Ikaris and Kro fight for the vial.
But Thena arrives to blast Ikaris away.
I like seeing Thena showing some energy here, but it's pretty much the last we'll see of that. From here out, while Kro and Thena are on the run from both the Eternals and the Deviants, it's Kro that calls the shots.
The priests wind up with the vial.
Kro realizes that sending out the Deviants' full fleet was a move by the priests specifically designed to attract the attention of the Eternals, and therefore get Kro killed. But Kro is on to a bigger discovery. He and Thena teleport to the Deviant's underground City of Toads, and he learns that the priests have never actually been culling the Deviants found genetically unclean.
Instead we'll learn that they're all being kept in suspended animation, with their minds re-written for control by Ghaur after his ascent to Celestial-hood.
Khoryphos also got teleported to the City of Toads, and he bumps into Yrdsis.
Issue #8 has Kro and Thena taking refuge at a costume party hosted by Sersi.
Also at the party are Hercules...
...Angel, Namor, and Jarvis.
Ghaur and Ikaris' group of Eternals show up at the party as well, looking for Thena and Kro.
Definitely a silly fun interlude...
...and Kro and Thena manage to escape without any changes to the status quo.
Issue #9 begins Walt Simons's turn on writing. He immediately plays up the problem with Thena by having Kro tell her "I will do the thinking for both of us." which is such a chauvinistic trigger phrase i can't help think that it was a deliberate reversal of Gillis' depiction of her; a signal to readers that Something's Wrong Here.
Meanwhile, Ikaris picks up a crystal message cube that Zuras left for Thena but that she deliberately discarded in a fit of weepiness in issue #1. The message informs us that there was a renegade Celestial that committed a heinous crime "against life itself".
We first saw that the Celestials fought a war and killed one of their own in #18 of the original series, but we weren't told what the reason was, even in the vague sense of one of them committing a "crime". Here we learn that the Celestial wasn't actually killed, but was instead made to sleep under the Earth, with its power taken from it and put in the vial that was recently acquired by the Deviants.
The Forgotten One arrives to tell the Eternals Ghaur's plan to becoming a Celestial himself. There's still a little confusion about what role Thena and Kro are playing in this, so the Eternals seek them out, and Ikaris challenges Thena for Zuras' mantle of power.
(BTW, the MCP counts this as an actual appearance of Zuras but it seems to be more like residual energy.)
Ikaris wins and becomes the Prime Eternal. Karkas also signals that something is wrong with Thena, although it's wrapped up in his own guilt for having aided Thena.
But Ikaris is satisfied that Kro doesn't have the vial, and he's moved enough by Thena's love of Kro that he lets them leave.
We are now into the Keith Pollard issues. Sersi helps the Eternals sneak into the City of Toads...
...while Kro and Thena, who have already returned to the city, see firsthand Ghaur's genetic control over all the Deviants (except Kro himself, for reasons unexplained. It's worth noting that unlike all other Deviants, Kro is immortal. I've long wondered if he really isn't a Deviant at all.)
There are a number of twists and turns while the Eternals sneak about the city, but the end result is that Margo Damian is killed while Ghaur tries to manipulate her genetic structure (he doesn't have a lot of experience with humans)...
...and Sersi is captured alongside Kro and Thena and implanted with a brain mine.
Sersi is forced to take the form of Margo, and while attempting to kill Ikaris she instead kills Dave Chatterton.
Ghaur, meanwhile, is all dressed up in his Celestial armor...
...although as the Forgotten One observes, the high priest is possessed by a vanity that makes him unfit to truly become a Celestial, as demonstrated by the fact that he keeps his face exposed.
Note also in that scan above that the Dreaming Celestial's "crime" seems to have been the creation of the Deviants. Or at least that is what the Deviants believe. It seems to fly in the face of the generally understood notion that the Celestials deliberately created all three branches of humanity.
The Eternals, enraged by the deaths of Margo and Dave, arrive and attack...
...but fail to stop Ghaur's ascension.
We are now into the final double-sized Paul Ryan issue.
Ghaur awakens all of the Deviants that were supposed to have been culled for genetic impurity.
What's interesting to me is that a literal reading of the Book of Revelation has it that when you die you just kind of lay in your tomb and wait for the second coming of Christ to wake up you again, and that is a lot like what's happening here, almost like the Deviant priests have been freezing Deviants just to make it seem like Revelations was coming true.
But thanks to a combination of Kro and Thena destroying the mechanism that controls the re-animated Deviants, and manipulation from the music of Khoryphos, the revived Deviants aren't well received by their family members...
...and they ultimately get destroyed with little impact on the main plot.
The Eternals, meanwhile, try to form the Uni-Mind to call the Celestials to come and do something about Ghaur, but there are too few of them and they fail. So Ghaur shows up...
...but suddenly finds himself pulled away.
He's being controlled by the Dreaming Celestial, who really wants to use Ghaur to free him, and really had no interest in the Deviants' plight.
Ghaur is detected by Captain America, and he's headed towards the Diablo Mountains in California, so Cap calls in the West Coast Avengers.
I mean, he's only a giant flying dude in weird armor, so no point in mobilizing the east coast team. Thor, however, recognizes the Celestial armor and heads out west to join the Whackos. The Avengers find Ghaur digging up the Dreaming Celestial's vault.
The Eternals soon arrive and it's big fight time.
Ok, it's not really a big fight since Ghaur isn't really controlling himself and since the Avengers are unable to stop him, but they do realize that Ghaur isn't in control. So with the addition of the Avengers, they attempt to form the Uni-Mind again. They are also joined by Thena, thanks to the fact that Kro reveals that he's had her under his control with a brain-mine this entire series.
With Thena and the Avengers, the Eternals are able to form the Uni-Mind...
...and remove Ghaur's mind from the Celestial armor.
With that, Ikaris is able to breach the Celestial armor...
...capture the energy in the vial again. Iron Man and Thor then seal it back up.
With that settled, the Eternals say goodbye to the Avengers. Iron Man tells Tigra that there aren't enough dudes in Olympia for her to have a proper gang-bang (seriously, WTF, Iron Man? Tigra just said she'd like to visit the city; how did you go there?).
Especially rude since it's Wonder Man who's been flying around without pants on.
We end with an uneasy peace between Kro and the Eternals.
I like Kro's more ambiguous evil, especially when coupled with other things we learn about the Deviants in this series, from their potential for art to the way they show love for dead family members and the overall sense that their evil ways come from their downtrodden lost in life. The waters are muddied a bit by the fact that Kro has been mind-controlling Thena, which is another reason i suspect that was a late addition by Simonson instead of Gillis' plan all along, but in any event even that is somewhat explained by Kro's love for Thena which he just has an extremely poor way of dealing with.
One of the biggest problems with the Eternals is that, aside from Sersi, they are all a little bland. Thena has the excuse of being under mind control throughout the story. Some attempt is made to depict Ikaris as being a little dumb and having blind hatred for the Deviants, but he's also the de factor leader of the group and there isn't a lot of room to play up those foibles. Makkari, Kingo Sunen, Khoryphos and the other Eternals are all just really bland. Reject on the other hand is over the top in his violent tendencies, but it's all sound and fury signifying nothing; just about every other player in this story has the ability to shut him up and does so, so he just comes off as annoying.
Still, at least Reject has a personality.
This is, i'm disappointed to say, at least as much a reflection on Peter Gillis and Walt Simonson's writing. Here's Ikaris describing Ghaur as a "Xerox copy" of a Celestial to Thor. Both characters have lived among humans long enough that they may know that phrase, but it hardly seems like the right one for two immortal characters to use when talking to each other.
Even beyond the admittedly minor Xerox thing, the scripting is just flat (again, except Sersi).
Nonetheless, the concepts in the series make up for a lot, and it's a good plot. Ghaur is a good villain (great design!) and there is a lot of complexity in the story with the internal strife among both the Eternals and Deviants. That said, if this maxi-series was a try-out for a regular Eternals series, it clearly failed. There's a 1991 one shot, but it really isn't until the 2000s that Marvel tries out even a mini-series again. In the meantime, though, the Forgotten One has a stint as an Avenger, Mark Gruenwald will make some use of the characters in Quasar, and Ghaur plays a major role in the 1989 annual event Atlantis Attacks
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places Angel in issue #8 between X-Factor #3-4. They place the East Coast Avengers appearances in both #8 and #12 during Avengers #270 (i am placing this before the arc in Avengers #267-270). And the West Coast Avengers in #12 after SWII #9 but before West Coast Avengers #10. And they place Thor after the first five pages of Thor #373, but i'm simply placing this between Thor #372-373 (#372 has Thor returning to Asgard at the end of the issue and #373 has him returning to Earth, but he could have been to Earth and back again in between). The first few issues of this story might take place over a longer period, but once the plot really gets going the issues are all happening within a short span of time, so i'm leaving the entire series in a single entry, especially considering that it doesn't affect placement for any of the guest stars.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
The Dreaming Celestial's crime is later revealed to be creating an extremely dangerous alien Deviant called Lord Tantalus, not the Deviants in general.
Posted by: Michael | December 15, 2013 11:04 PM
In regards to your comment about Iron Man chastising Tigra, she does seem to be very frisky with everyone she meets. I could see how he took it as her "inviting" herself to join the party.
Posted by: CLYDE | December 15, 2013 11:18 PM
@Michael - I mean no disrespect to the interviewer or Walt Simonson, but you have to love these interviews where the questions are like "What were you thinking when you wrote panel 17 of issue #273?" and the answers are always "It was a long time ago; i don't remember.".
@Clyde - my comments about Tigra here are an overreaction due to the fact that i'm unhappy with the way Englehart was writing her in WCA at the time.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 16, 2013 11:48 AM
Yeah, what is up with Wondy's lack of pants? Normally I'd assume it was a colouring error--but its not just the one panel. In every scan you included with Wonder Man, he is lacking pants.
Posted by: Dermie | December 16, 2013 2:52 PM
Considering that the Roman pantheon is essentially a duplicate of the Greek pantheon (but not identical as there are differences in depiction between certain counterparts. Saturn is more benevolent than Cronus, and Mars is a defender of Rome unlike the blood crazed Areas), I never understood why Marvel did not use that to slot the Eternals and differentiate them from the established Greek pantheon known throw Hercules. Technically, Hercules would need to be called Heracles, but one could keep the mortals calling him that and subtly only have Herc's fellow Olympians call him by his real Greek name.
Just keep all the original Greek sounding names Kirby used, but for new characters use more Roman sounding names. Makkari already sounds like the Roman Mercury instead of Hermes anyway even if Zuras sounds more like Zeus than Jupiter.
I think an Eternals influence over Rome would also explain the more Apollonian aspects of Roman culture compared to the Greeks. It would help some differentiation between the Eternals and any of the Olympian characters.
Posted by: Chris | December 16, 2013 9:11 PM
Since Thor appears both without and then with beard, I would think there would have to be some Thor stories placed in the middle of it, no?
Posted by: S | December 17, 2013 1:37 AM
Where you have written "But Thena arrives to blast Ikaris away," you have duplicated the earlier scan of her being "moody and ineffectual." I'm sure you'll want to fix that. It gave me a laugh, though. Especially with the next words being "I like seeing her showing some energy here..." She sulked him into submission!
Posted by: Todd | December 17, 2013 4:03 AM
Ha, ha, thanks Todd. Your comment tempted me to just leave the scan as is, but i figured i should let Thena have her moment.
@S, i assume you're joking, but just in case - all those scans of Thor come from the same issue. His beard is disappearing to the same place as Wonder Man's pants. You can actually see the beard in the scan with Captain America if you squint.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 17, 2013 8:06 AM
"The idea that humans got the idea of the Greek gods from observing the Eternals doesn't fit nicely with the fact that there are actual Greek gods in the Marvel universe".
It could, or at least one point it could fit very well. Conan once noted that he did not recognize the name Zeus as that of a deity or demon in a time travel related tale. I took this mean to that the Olympians did not interact with Earth till after the Hyborian Age, which the Official Handbook fairly close to explicitly says.
Posted by: PB210 | December 17, 2013 4:40 PM
So, if Zuras had lived 20,000 or so years ago or more, then he would precede Conan, and if Zeus did not interact with Earth till after the time of Conan, humans encountering Zuras could have shaped Zeus.
Posted by: PB210 | December 17, 2013 4:47 PM
Marvel Age and Amazing Heroes printed the original sketches for Ghaur; he was at first brown, had a big pointy finger, one eye, and the top of his skull resembled a clamshell.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 20, 2013 4:34 PM
This dreaming Celestial is the same one that's been featured during Brubaker's late 2000s "Uncanny X-Men" run, correct?
Posted by: Jeff | August 16, 2016 1:35 PM
Pardon my gaffe, I meant Matt Fraction not Ed Brubaker.
Posted by: Jeff | August 16, 2016 1:36 PM
You're not entirely wrong; the story that had the X-Men to move to San Francisco, where the Dreaming Celestial had been left in Gaiman's Eternals miniseries, was set up by an arc co-written by Brubaker and Fraction.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 16, 2016 5:55 PM
The Dreaming Celestial's name is eventually revealed to be Tiamut (the communicator).
Posted by: Dave77 | May 6, 2017 2:15 AM
I'm confused about the Bandrhude's mouth. Is there drool coming out of his drool?
Posted by: Lyde1848 | December 5, 2017 6:04 PM
This miniseries... Gillis and Buscema were at the absolute top of their respective games - and something happened, I've never been able to find out what, despite many hours googling, and nine brilliant issues were undermined with the last three that were merely adequate, if that. Simonson, clearly enough, is ... a crap writer when brought in to bat cleanup on some editor kefluffle without a plan. This thing was definitely going places until Gillis was abruptly gone, and all the subtlety and sheer brilliance with him...
Posted by: BU | December 7, 2017 1:51 PM
Simonson did get some dirty jobs cleaning up after editor kefluffles lol For examples, post-Stern Avengers and post-Englehart FF, and here he gets to take the blame for the post-Kirby, post-Gillis Eternals. No telling what stories he might have written if they had just left him to his own devices, but no.
"... editor in chief Jim Shooter disliked Gillis’s scripts, so Walter Simonson wrote the final four issues." - Peter Sanderson
"I know that when I was given the series to finish, I had no idea where Peter was going with it. So, following the same process I would use years later with Avengers HR, I read the preceding issues and then tried to figure out where they would lead logically and dramatically." - Walt Simonson
"... it wasn’t worth it and in the end, it persuaded me that writing the Avengers at that time was, for me at least, something of a thankless job." - Walt Simonson
Posted by: Holt | December 7, 2017 5:10 PM
I wonder what Shooter disliked about Gillis's scripts? I can't imagine that for a limited series, its resolutions wouldn't already have been planned and accepted as part of the proposal. It's very odd to can them after 3/4 of the series has been done, and bring in a brand new writer.
I am a big fan of Shooter as EiC, but in 1986 he seemed to take a much more interventionist role in canning scripts and issuing fixes. It's what caused John Byrne to leave Marvel at this time. I think Shooter was under a lot of pressure due to the impending sale of Marvel by Cadence, and he may have wanted to be seen as taking an active hand in managing things.
Posted by: Chris | December 8, 2017 12:23 AM
I have to consider that a rumor, since Sanderson gives no reference to verify his statement, but one has to wonder why they would have changed writers that far into the project, and why Simonson had no opportunity to discuss the plot with Gillis or even to read his notes. The later interventions by DeFalco on Avengers and FF are a little bit less of a mystery. It's all maybe made more mysterious because most writers are a little less outspoken about their disagreements with editorial than Byrne or Stern were after leaving the company. I tend to see the whole problem as being one of an overreaching editorial policy for the whole company, moreso than as a problem of any individual editor. But it all seems to have been exacerbated after they started having their yearly company-wide crossover events, requiring much closer editorial scrutiny and control, starting with Secret Wars. The yearly crossovers were becoming more important than the individual title-oriented continuity threads. That continues to affect the quality of writing right up to the present time, at both DC and Marvel, IMO.
Posted by: Holt | December 8, 2017 6:21 AM
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